Full text of "Youth"
Indians on Alcatraz
Photos and Article by Bill Wingell
Nona Locke laughed and nuzzled
her head on her brother's shoulder.
A shy, 14-year-old Sioux-Chippewa
girl from Topanga, near Los An-
geles, Nona seenned both embar-
rassed and amused by my efforts to
photograph her and her 15-year-old
We were on board a fishing boat
chugging across San Francisco Bay
on our way to Alcatraz, the aban-
doned federal prison island nov/
occupied by Indian-Americans. The
deck of the small vessel was
crowded with some 35 persons,
many of them women and children.
Except for myself, everyone, includ-
ing the boat's captain, was Indian.
Dressed poorly and loaded down
with bulky bundles, the travelers
brought to mind images of an Ellis
Island ferry jammed with newly-
arrived immigrants or a boat-load of
Jewish refugees slipping into Pales-
tine after World War II.
Nona and Kevin sat in the stern,
giggling at my struggle to keep a
firm footing while taking photo-
graphs on the wave-rocked boat.
During the 20-minute ride, the two
young people talked about the im-
portance of the Indian occupation
of Alcatraz and why they had
chosen to spend their entire vaca-
tion from school on "the rock."
"It's really the principle of it,"
Nona remarked. "The government
made a treaty that all abandoned
or unused federal lands should im-
mediately be turned back to the
Indians" — a reference to an 1868
treaty between the U.S. government
and the Sioux tribe. "We think
they should live up to the treaty."
"We want to protest, we want
white people to take notice of us,"
Kevin injected. "We're always hid-
den away, but now Indians are as-
serting themselves more."
Nona spoke enthusiastically of the
occupiers' plans to establish an In-
dian cultural center on Alcatraz.
"They should make it the capital of
Indians," she said, noting; "I get a
good feeling being around my peo-
ple. Some of the kids who weren't
raised on reservations have to read
books to find out about their own
people." Nona then voiced a fre-
quently-heard complaint about
schooling — that public schools are
programmed for white youth and
do not meet the special needs of
Indian students. She said she hoped
the Alcatraz invaders would set up a
high school on the island.
Our boat docked at the island's
landing, where the occupiers had re-
lettered a large "United States
Property" sign to read: "United
Indian Property." From a nearby
guard tower flew the Indians' own
After scrambling onto the dock
and greeting their mother, who was
also staying on the island, Nona and
Kevin agreed to give me a tour.
We walked up a concrete roadway
toward the now-dormant power
plant. Wandering through decay-
ing buildings — the power station, a
paint shop, the workshops where
prisoners had labored — and climb-
ing over crumbling catwalks con-
necting the once gun-bristling guard
towers, I had the feeling I was ex- .
ploring an old prison set on a back- r
lot of a Hollywood movie company.
Nona Locke on boat to Alcatraz
Number i f
May 24. 1970
Editor: Herman C. Ahrens, Jr.
Assoc. Editor: Laura-Jean Mashricic
Art Consultant: Charles Newton
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Secretary: Jane Popp
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This issue designed by Jirn Wilson
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We want white people to take notice of us
The whole scene seemed unreal.
To the men once imprisoned
there, however, Alcatraz had been
real enough. One of the Indian in-
vaders himself was having some-
thing of a reunion with "the rock."
Theodore Mureno, a 46-year-old
Yakima from Washington State,
said he spent five months there in
1947 for illegally fishing in Alaska.
Now, he was back, as the Indian in-
vasion force's chief cook. "This
place has changed quite a bit,"
Actually, the island hasn't
changed much at all throughout its
The Spanish, who claimed the
island from — who else? Indians — in
1775, were the first to use it as a
prison. In fact, their old dungeons
form part of the foundation for the
present prison structure. In 1846,
the island passed into U. S. hands,
and the government used it as a
military prison three years later.
Ironically, the first American pris-
oners sent to Alcatraz were rebel-
lious Indian chiefs. The island re-
mained under military control until
1933, at which time it became a
In 1963, the government aban-
doned the outmoded prison and left
it in the care of the General Serv-
ices Administration (GSA). Since
then, several schemes for its use
have been proposed, among them
its conversion into a gambling ca-
sino, a wax museum of former no-
torious prisoners, and a monument
to space technology. None of the
plans have come to pass, however.
and the island's only inhabitants —
until the arrival of the Indians —
have been caretaker John Hart and
his wife and two helpers.
Our tour having taken us across
the island, Nona, her brother and I
walked up a hill toward the pink
concrete building containing the
main cells. In the structure's central
section, four blocks of cells rose
three tiers high. Some of the five-
by-nine foot cubicles showed signs
of recent occupancy; the Indians
had lived in them when they first
arrived on the island; later, they
moved into other buildings, includ-
ing the warden's house and the
guard's apartment buildings, where,
for lack of furniture, heat and other
amenities, they slept in sleeping
bags on the floor.
Nona joked that she had come
up with one money-making idea:
"We'll charge people to come out
and see the 'Birdman of Alcatr'az'
cell. We're not sure which one it
was, but we'll just put a sign on any
cell." She laughed, and she and her
brother walked down a long aisle
between the rows of darkened cell
blocks to the prison cafeteria, where
the old penitentiary's new occupants
were eating a lunch of cheese sand-
wiches and cocoa.
The occupation of Alcatraz be-
gan on November 20 last year,
when 89 Indians, many of them
young people, arrived by boat to
take up their outlandish residence.
During holidays, the island popula-
tion swelled to several hundred. But ^
mostly the population has been r
transient, with thousands of tribal
Gateway to the new Alcatraz
THE INDIAN QUESTION
Why wonf you give us the hiand —
What IS if that you fear?
Why don't you try to set things right
Now that we are here?
Why won't you give us our land and schools
And let us begin to build?
Are you ashamed of what you've done —
Of what you've spoiled and killed?
Why don't you give us Alcatraz,
What dsi^JLES^n to you?
Whaf if fhe Mohawk and Navaho
Join Cherokee and Sioux?
For we are one people, proud and strong
And we must have fhis land!
We'll build a new and sacred place
According fo an Indian plan!
So do nof fear, O, poor white man,
We do nof want your life!
We turn instead to our Indian Way
Free from your hate and strife!
—Lone Wolf, Blackfoot
December 3. 1969
We need a lot of help; we can t do it alone
visitors coming and going over the
months. Now about 100 live there.
Not surprisingly, it was Indian
youth — that "new breed" of native
American militants, as one observer
put it — who started the whole thing.
Much of the impetus for the inva-
sion, according to one early arrival,
came from the loss by fire of an
Indian community center in San
Francisco. "We needed a new
place to gather," the youth said.
The first foray took place on the
night of November 9. At that time,
14 Indian students from San Fran-
cisco area colleges hired a boat and
slipped onto the island. They
stayed only until the next morning,
departing when warned of arrest by
One of the participants in that
first incursion was La Nada Means,
a 23-year-old Bannock girl from Fort
Hall, Idaho, and a pre-law student
at the University of California's
La Nada said that first night
"was like running away from board-
ing school — kind of exciting and
scary and challenging."
She described how the group
hired a boat, "assuring the captain
we were going to a religious meet-
ing. He didn't seem to get the
vibrations of a religious meeting,
though — not after he saw our
crowd. But he took us anyway."
Another invader, Linda Aranaydo,
a 2 1 -year-old Creek girl and a senior
at Berkeley, said the captain de-
manded three dollars from each pas-
senger. "So whoever had three dol-
lars got on the island," she laughed.
After their arrival on the dark
prison complex, the landing party
divided into three groups in order
to avoid all getting caught at the
same time. "We walked along in
the moonlight, creeping next to the
walls. When we heard a noise we
would flatten on the ground. It was
eery," Linda related.
La Nada noted that in the morn-
ing the invaders came across a
rather well-dressed scarecrow.
"Linda had just a summer blouse, so
she took the scarecrow's shirt. Joe
Bill, he took the pants because they
were better than his."
A short time later, the group ran
into reporters, who told them the
Coast Guard had arrived on the
island with representatives of the
GSA. "We went and hid in the
bushes," La Nada related. "Then
two guys in suits chased me. They
had a radio and were calling me
'Indian female — unknown.' "
Warned they would be arrested
if they did not voluntarily leave
Alcatraz, the invaders "decided to
go back and organize some more,"
according to La Nada. "So we went
back and got things together." Two
weeks later, the Indians landed in
force. And this time they stayed.
From that obviously impromiDtu
beginning, the occupation of Afca-
traz has taken on at least the dream,
if not the reality, of permanence.
The inhabitants have incorporated
under the title: "Indians of All
Tribes." They have elected a gov-
erning council, all but one member
under 30 years of age. Intent on r
staying, the participants have drawn
Smokestack of peace
up plans for the long-range use of
their new habitat.
In February, they presented a
proposal to the government for a
grant of $300,000 to plan an In-
dian university and cultural center.
Included would be: (I) a center for
native American studies, with a
"traveling university" to carry re-
search and education to reserva-
tions throughout the country; (2)
a spiritual center to practice an-
cient tribal ceremonies; (3) a cen-
ter of ecology to train and support
young people in research and prac-
tice to restore lands and waters to
their natural state; (4) a training
school to teach Indians how to make
a living, improve their standard of
living, and end Indian hunger and
unemployment; (5) a museum that
would depict Indian food and cul-
tural contributions and show the
"noble and tragic events of Indian
history, including the broken treat-
ies, the Trail of Tears, the Massacre
of Wounded Knee, as well as the
victory over Yellow Hair Custer
and his army."
Recognizing that their ambitious
proposals will take a great deal of
money — eventually running into
the millions — the Indians expressed
the hope of getting aid from both
governmental and private agencies.
Just occupying the island in its
present state — without heat or ade-
quate electricity — is costing more
than $2000 a week.
Church and labor organizations
have been among the project's prin-
cipal supporters, but individual per-
sons have helped too. One con-L
tributor was Buffy Sainte-Marie, the
popular Cree folksinger, who held a
Marilyn Maracle at cell block
benefit concert at Stanford Univer-
sity a short time after the invasion,
raising more than $2000 in a single
performance. She also performed
on the island for the invaders.
Miss Sainte-Marie showed a mili-
tant identification with the Alca-
traz venture. "We intend to use it
as a home base. We intend to get
things done without the advice of
government organizations, which
have done nothing but perpetuate
cycles of poverty. We intend to
take over Indian affairs."
She said she foresaw Alcatraz be-
ing used as an organizing base for
coping with what she described as
"the emergencies that arise in na-
tive America every day" — crises
such as the Washington state gov-
ernment's denial of treaty-guaran-
teed off-reservation fishing rights to
the Nisqually tribe or the federal
government's plan to flood part of
the Round Valley reservation in
northern California by the construc-
tion of a dam on the Eel River.
"It's a new day for native Ameri-
cans," Miss Sainte-Marie asserted.
"There are many of our people who
speak out now, whereas it used to
be the Society of Friends, the do-
gooders, who spoke for us, often
where they had no right or real
knowledge of our problems. Now
we are speaking for ourselves.
"If a non-Indian wants to help
Indians, please tell him to straighten
out non-Indian America," the singer
advised. "It's the only answer to
the 'Indian problem.' "
While unquestionably stimulating
interest and concern among whites,
the invasion of Alcatraz has fired the
imaginations of Indians across the
country. "It's the best damn thing
since Custer's last stand," pro-
claimed Lehman L Brightman, 39-
La Nada Means
THE WOMEN OF ALCATRAZ
A hai - A hat - A hai
Our women are brave on Alcafrai
They work like the hard North Wind
A hai - A hai - A hai
Our women are genfle on Alcafraz
They sway like the sweef South Wind
A hai - A hai - A hai
Our women are wise on Akafrai
They sing tike ihe fresh East Wind
A hai - A hoi - A hai
Our women are loving on Alcafraz
They smile like the warm West Wind
O, women o/ Alcafraz!
-Lone Wolf Blackfoof
November 25. }969
In school they treated us like dumb kids
year-old director of the native
American studies progrann at Berke-
ley and a great-grandson of, in his
words, "one of the few Indians killed
in the battle with Custer."
Brightman, a Cheyenne Agency
Sioux from South Dakota with a
master's degree in education, was
interviewed in his campus office.
Brightman noted proudly that 20
j of his 23 Indian students had been
among the Alcatraz invading force.
"I didn't think it would work," he
^ said, "but I was proved wrong."
The director fairly glowed as he
pointed out that the invasion was
carried out "by young Indians,
without bloodshed or violence, and
they knew they could be sent to
prison for it. It took a lot of guts."
"This Alcatraz thing has focused
a tremendous amount of attention
on the Indian, and it's been a tre-
! mendous help," Brightman main-
I tained. "We've been able to bring
out a lot of problems. I've never
seen so many newspaper men and
media people in my life. Nobody
listened to us before, but when we
jumped on Alcatraz, every third
person out there was a newsman."
If, eventually, the government
does turn over the island to its oc-
cupiers, Brightman said he felt "it
owes them the money to set up
something worthwhile on it. It will
take millions, and it will be just a
gimmick if they don't give us the
money. We need a lot of help; we
can't do it alone."
The appeal of the Alcatraz occu-
pation showed among the occupiers
too. During a break in a fast-moving
basketball game taking place near
the old guards' quarters, I spoke
with two brothers, Ray and Ken
McCloud, 16 and 19, who had
hitchhiked from Washington state.
It took them 30 hours. Remarked
Ken: "I think it's cool. Since it's
an Indian island, we're here to
help." "They need guys to help
clean up this place," added his
brother. They planned to stay sev-
eral weeks, until it was time for
them to return to school.
Marilyn Maracle, a 2 1 -year-old
Mohawk girl, traveled from Okla-
homa, where she was employed in
a poverty program, to help on the
island. She viewed the project as an
effort by Indian youth to "reject
white culture and attempt to return
to the Indian style of life."
Marilyn spoke of the stresses In-
dian young people face today. She
said she herself had spent four
months in mental institutions. "All
kinds of things led to that, but what
keeps cropping up is the identity
problem and trying to establish my-
self as an Indian in the white com-
munity. You sit there and you say,
'I'm an Indian and I don't know what
that means.' "
It appeared that the long-dis-
tance record for travel to Alcatraz
was held by Douglas Remington, a
24-year-old Southern Ute from
Colorado. Remington, who was
raised on one of the country's few
economically-sound reservations and
who graduated from Boston and
Yale universities with a master's de- ^
gree in English education, was ^
teaching at the University of
Teaching at Big Rock Elementary Schc
Ken and Ray McCloud hitchhiked
fronn Washington state
Madrid In Spain when he read in a
newspaper about the island inva-
sion. Several days later, he was on
a plane flying to San Francisco.
"It's a beautiful island, the whole
concept is beautiful," Remington as-
serted on his way out to Alcatraz
after a brief visit to the mainland.
"The 1960s was the generation of
social revolution. The blacks have
done it, and now we're doing it. It's
just a first step, but Indians can nov/
stand up and be counted. Now
they can really think of themselves
as human beings. It's a new breed
of Indian — here and everywhere."
Remington directs the elementary
school set up on the island for
the children of the inhabitants.
State curriculum guides are fol-
lowed strictly for grades I through
7 and Indian teachers are fully qual-
ified and accredited.
Remington stressed the impor-
tance of the young Indians' par-
ticipation. "They're more aware
now of what's happening, more
involved," he said. "The old people
used to have the say — like on tribal
councils. But now young people are
having their say. And they should
have a voice on the reservations.
They are the future and should be
brought up to hold the reins of
leadership. Sure, they'll make mis-
takes, but the old people did too."
Remington pointed to changes on
his own reservation, noting that the
minimum age for membership on
the Tribal Council used to be 30;
now, it's 25. "And you used to have
to be 35 to be chairman, but after
we picketed and petitioned, we got
that down to 30."
Gazing at the boat arriving at
the dock to take him back to the
island. Remington mused: "At first,
Alcatraz was a symbol to us, but it's
not anymore. Now, it's real. I hope
something really comes out of this."
Back on the island, I talked to La
Nada Means about why Alcatraz
meant so much to her. The occupa-
tion, she replied "means a lot of
things. It's something that reflects
my whole life. It goes back to when
I was young."
On her family's reservation in
Idaho, her father was a "jack of all
trades" who worked mostly for
meals, with the result that "we
didn't have any money for the
home," La Nada said. He had been
chairman of the Tribal Council but
was ousted for "bucking the bu-
reau" — the federal Bureau of Indian
Affairs, which administers reserva-
tions throughout the country, and
has strong paternalistic authority
over Indians everywhere.
Describing the hunger she knew
as a child. La Nada related: "There
was a tree in the corner of our yard.
I'd chew on the leaves. And there
was a weed that tasted like cab-
bage. I'd sit out there with my salt
shaker. Man, I was hungry." As a
result of malnutrition, she con-
tracted rickets and still walks with
a slight impairment.
She'll never forget the prejudice
of the white people in the small
towns around the reservations, es-
I m Indian and don t know what that means
pecially the stores with signs in
their windows reading "No Indians
or Dogs Allowed."
La Nada's education in public,
church and boarding schools was
one long misadventure — a small
part of what Senator Edward M.
Kennedy's subcommittee on Indian
education has called "a national
tragedy." She went to schools in
Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma and
South Dakota and was tossed out of
each — one after less than a day. "It
was phoney and I knew it. They
treated us like dumb little Indian
children. Led us around like we
didn't have any minds of our own. I
just didn't learn anything."
At one church-related school, ac-
cording to the student, "they had a
class in laundry — they called it
'home economics.' You would wash
and iron and do all the bedding for
the dormitories. Then they would
send you to the headmaster's or
headmistress's home and you would
be their servant. I didn't go there
to be a servant." At another school,
she made the honor roll but was still
expelled after two months — the
headmistress said she didn't "fit in."
Lacking a diploma, La Nada took
a high school equivalency exam,
scored well and was admitted to
Idaho State University. She stayed
only one semester, however, then
moved to San Francisco, where she
lived with a friend and tried to find
work. "The BIA said it couldn't help
me because I didn't come on the
relocation program" — a plan
whereby the bureau pays usually ill-
prepared Indians to move from
reservations to urban centers, gives
them some job training and finds
them often ill-paid work. "The em-
ployment office said they wouldn't
refer me because I didn't dress well
enough," she said.
She finally got work as a bar-
maid. At 17 she was pregnant.
After having the baby, she returned
to Idaho. But a short time later was
back in San Francisco — this time
enrolled in the BIA relocation pro-
gram. "I just didn't want to be
stuck on the reservation," she noted.
She worked at several jobs, got
married, had another child and then
separated from her husband. In
1968, she was admitted to the Uni-
versity of California's Educational
Opportunity Program for minority
students. Taking part in the Third
World student strike for an ethnic
studies department (the native
American studies program was set
up as a consequence of that strike),
she was arrested for assault and re-
ceived a suspended sentence. She
was also suspended from school but
was later readmitted.
Now, La Nada is intent on spe-
cializing in federal Indian law. "If I
want to do something effective for
my people, I've got to know what
the laws are," she said "so the law
works for you and not against you,
so no Indian is sent to prison for
nothing. Everyone I've grown up
with is in prison; they're so wasted.
We've got to get a hold of the laws
controlling us. We've got to know
what's going on." She hopes that ^
eventually Alcatraz will have a uni- r
versity with its own law department.
Linda Aranaydo was one of the original "invader
THE DRUMS OF ALCATRAZ
Down /o fhe shore our people come
Following sounds of the Indian drum
For this is a day of victory —
Sfioshone, Yakama and Cree!
In our peoples' eyes, a new spirit gleams
The shining hope of old, old dreams
For we are proud of our young men
Porno, Blood and Algonquin!
Our children laugh and sing our song
The people dance all day long,
Around fhe Island our people walk
Blackfoof, Apache and brave Mohawk!
Across fhe wafers of fhe gleaming Bay
Our people come throughout the day
To laugh and dance the long night through
Paiufe, Navaho and Sioux!
O, my people, hear our drums
The drums of Alcafrai!
—Lone Wolf, Bbckfoof
December I, 1969
It s the best thing since Custer^s last stand
To La Nada, the occupation of
Alcatraz was "a way of letting peo-
ple know what we're about, to let
them know our situation, that too
nnuch discrimination has been going
on in the cities. Now people at
least know we're alive."
What is the situation of the In-
dian today? His average life span
is 44 years, compared to 71 for
his white brothers. The average
yearly income of Indian families
on reservations is $1500 — half the
national poverty level. Average
schooling is 5'/2 years, much less
than that of both the black and
the Mexican American. Unemploy-
ment is low and most reservation
housing is rated substandard. The
Indians have the highest birth rate,
infant mortality rate, and suicide
rate in the U. S.
Fractionalized by tribal differ-
ences, Indian leaders have been
slowed in efforts to unite the more
than 650,000 Indians in the U.S. to
tackle such problems. Under treaty
status, 315 Indian tribal groups in
26 states still function as quasi-
The story of many of the Alca-
traz inhabitants reflect this over-
all situation. For example, Judy
and Winston Scraper and their two
children moved from Oklahoma to
San Francisco on the BIA relocation
program. They were told of "the
land of opportunity" in California,
Judy, a 26-year-old Shawnee, re-
called, "but we were borrowing
more than we were making. It was
such a big disappointment."
When the Alcatraz invasion oc-
curred, the Scrapers gave up their
house and furniture and moved their
remaining belongings onto the
island. "I went out there out of
curiosity and just stayed," she said.
"It was such a beautiful idea — that
all Indian people would unite for a
just cause. Now it's my home and
my hope for a a better future. If
the government puts us off the is-
land, I'll have no place to go."
The question of whether the gov-
ernment would indeed put the In-
dians off the island remained an
From the outset the General
Services Administration has held
that the Indians are trespassing. On
the other hand, agency officials
have stated there are no present
plans to evict the invaders. In Jan-
uary, the Nixon Administration
assigned Robert Robertson, a non-
Indian and executive director of the
new, federally-sponsored National
Council on Indian Opportunity, to
negotiate with the occupiers.
Under Robertson, the govern-
ment rejected the Indians' proposal
to build a cultural, educational and
spiritual center on Alcatraz. In-
stead, the government responded
with a plan to turn the island into
a park that would have "maximum
In early April, the Indians re-
jected the park plan and gave the
government until May 3 1 to make
a counterproposal. If it does not,
the Indians say, they will draw up
their own ownership deed "by right ^
of discovery" (a ruse used by whites ^
to claim former Indian lands) and
Lehman Brighfman, director of native American studies at Berkeley
seek private funds to develop the
Said John Trudell, a spokesman,
"We will no longer be museum
pieces, tourist attractions, and poli-
tician's playthings. There will be
no park on this island, because it
changes the whole meaning of what
we are here for."
Earlier, when I asked whether
there was a possibility the govern-
ment might turn over the island to
the occupants (one highly-placed
Nixon adviser is said to favor such
a course), Robertson replied: "I
don't know — there might be." But
he added quickly: "Do you know
how much money would be in-
volved? It would take $7 million to
$10 million just to clear it off and
put the utilities out. In government,
you have to weigh the priorities.
... A piece of the pie is better
than none at all."
Some people may object to a
priority of federal spending to aid
such a project, "yet Health, Edu-
cation and Welfare gave out $10
million last year to non-Indians to
study Indians," observes Vine Del-
oria, Jr., a Standing Rock Sioux
and author of the new book, Custer
Died for Your Sins. "Not one dol-
lar went to an Indian scholar or
researcher to present the point of
view of Indian people. And the
studies done by non-Indians added
nothing to what was already knov/n
Formerly executive director of
the National Council of American
Indians, Mr. Deloria reports in the
New York Times Magazine, "By
making Alcatraz an experimental
Indian center operated and planned
by Indian people, we would be
given a chance to see what we
could do toward developing answers
to modern social problems."
In the face of bureaucratic hesi-
tation, Democratic Representative
George E. Brown Jr., whose own
East Los Angeles constituency in-
cludes many Mexican and Indian
Americans, has introduced in Con-
gress a resolution urging President
Nixon to begin negotiations to turn
over Alcatraz to its occupiers. The
bill has ten co-sponsors.
In his remarks before the House,
Representative Brown noted that
patronizing governmental policies
have only further alienated Indians
and destroyed their "rich culture."
Indians, he asserted, "consistently
rank as the poorest, most illiterate,
short-lived and distant members of
"Therefore, Alcatraz is critically
important," he said, "Unfortunately
— and tragically — the government
has failed them. Now, Indians have
decided peacefully to take destiny
into their own hands."
Representative Brown's resolution
was referred to the House Commit-
tee on the Interior, where, accord-
ing to one Washington observer, it
is likely to receive little favorable
attention unless public pressure is
brought to bear. It was suggested
that citizens write their own con-
gressmen to urge support for the
resolution. Letters also could be
They should make this the capital oF Indians
directed to President Nixon calling
for him to turn over Alcatraz to its
new residents. (For information or
contributions, write to Alcatraz Re-
lief Fund, 4339 California St., San
The Indians themselves have
rather pointedly offered to buy the
island — for $24 worth of glass beads
and red cloth, "a precedent set by
the white man's purchase of a simi-
lar island about 300 years ago. We
know that $24 in trade goods for
these 16 acres is more than was
paid when Manhattan Island was
sold," they added wryly, "but we
know that land values have risen
over the years. Our offer of $1.24
per acre is greater than the 47 cents
the white men are now paying the
California Indians for their land."
They also offered to set aside a
portion of the island for whites. It
would be administered by a "Bureau
of Caucasian Affairs."
In another sharply-pointed com-
mentary, the occupiers scoffed at
government assertions that the is-
land is both unsafe and unsuitable
for their use. The Indians noted
caustically that the "rock" merely
resembles most Indian reservations
in that "it is isolated from modern
facilities and without adequate
means of transportation; it has no
fresh running water; it has inade-
quate sanitation facilities; there are
no oil or mineral rights; there is no
industry, and so unemployment is
very great; there are no health
care facilities; the soil is rocky and
non-productive; there are no edu-
cational facilities . . . (and) the
population has always been held as
prisoners and kept dependent upon
Still, they noted in summary, if
Alcatraz were turned over to its oc-
cupiers, "this tiny island would be a
symbol of the great lands once
ruled by free and noble Indians."
At the end of one of the Alcatraz
young people's frequent ball games,
a group of youth strolled up the
hillside path to the main cell block,
where they were scheduled to help
prepare the evening meal.
"Here you can just do your own
thing and feel good about it," re-
marked Susan Hannan, a 2 1 -year-
old Yurok girl from northern Cali-
fornia and a student at Berkeley.
"It's your choice," she said. "You
can make whatever you want to out
of it, and our people do want to
If the government does plan to
remove the Indians from the island,
according to Sue, they will have to
physically carry off a lot of people
— including herself. "My heart's in
this cause," said she firmly.
Several of the young people
speculated that the government
was playing a waiting game — hop-
ing that the inhabitants would tire
of their project and leave the is-
land of their own accord.
That wasn't likely, opined 15-
year - old Rosemary Whitewater.
"We came out here to help our
people, and we're not going to get
tired," she declared. "We think
Alcatraz should be a place for In-
dians, and we're really going to get
things going here."
Tom Pox at Sunday pow-v/ov
THE WHITE MAN'S WAV
You gave us a freafy and fook our land
And you stole our children away —
Our water turned bad, the wind blew sands
The white man had come to stay!
Then the corn gave out and the buffalo died
And our children slept alone,
Black were our faces, our women cried
And our young men started to roam!
The whiskey was cheap, the food was high
And our horses starved in the field.
For when people are beaten, people will die
And the fate of our tribes was sealed!
Our spirits were crippled as broken wings
The bright land turned to dust
You gave us the Bible and some old things
And ordered us to learn to trust!
Aii, we signed your treaty and burned our tent
And waited for promises to be kept
We heard your words; we learned what they meant
Our brothers drank and our mothers wept!
But, today our young men from all of the tribes
Hold this place as Indian Land.
Take back your treaty, take back your bribes
On this Island, together we stand!
—Lone Wolf. Blackfoot
December 2. 1969